March 2015



How to Be in Your Relationship With All Your Heart

By Shirley Vollett, Life and Relationship Coach

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius

If we want to experience joy, fulfillment and connection in our relationship, then we need to show up fully - or in other words, be all in. Nothing undermines a relationship like having one foot out-the-door. While we may not leave physically, there are many small ways that we leave our partner mentally and emotionally.

Here are some of the ways we take ourselves away:

  • We focus more attention on our partner's shortcomings, than we do on their assets. The things we dislike about our partner become amplified, while their strengths shrink in comparison.
  • We selectively compare our partner's shortcomings to the assets of others. We zero in on those attributes of others than we wish our partner possessed and we negatively compare.
  • We blame our partner when we are dissatisfied or unhappy. We entertain the thought that if-only they were being or acting differently, we'd feel better.
  • We harbour little resentments about things our partner "should" have done or "shouldn't" have done. And we nurture these hurts or slights righteously.
  • We compare our relationship to the fantasy romance we saw at the movies or on TV. Unlike ourselves, the hero and heroine are Hollywood-gorgeous, perfectly coiffed and always say and do just the "right" thing.

All of this thinking leads to feeling critical and distant from the one we love best. When we give a lot of mental air-time to doubts and what-if's, we take precious energy away from finding solutions to what may be troubling us - and keep ourselves stuck in discontent and fault-finding.

So how do we stay positive, constructive and present?

1. Have zero tolerance for resentments.

Resentments occur when we fail to address something that bothers us. Irritation and anger precede resentment and they are signals we need to pay attention to. They point us towards hurts we have sustained and boundary-violations we are tolerating. We need to examine our resentments, discover what is at the root of them and take steps to address them.

So dig down and discover what you are feeling, what you want and what requests you may have for your partner. Or take steps to draw a boundary. Initiate the conversation/negotiation with your partner that can lead to change.

If you decide to "let go" of what is bothering you, be honest with yourself. When you truly "let go" of an issue, there is NO residual resentment and you feel open and loving towards your partner. If you don't feel this way, go after resolving the concern. These buried resentments will kill love and may cost you your health.

2. Accept that your partner is a "package" -- just as you are.

Every partner is a unique "package" of assets and liabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Have you ever noticed that our greatest asset is often the flip side of our greatest weakness? ("I love how friendly and gregarious my husband is, but sometimes I wish he'd quit talking and get some work done!") The things we admire in our partner often have a shadow side that we're not so fond of. The same is true for us.

No one is perfect and EVERY person is an evolving package of attractive and unattractive qualities. Don't parse their attributes, as if you can take some of them and leave out the other parts. They are a package deal. And they are evolving and growing, just as you are.

3. Treat yourself and your partner with loving kindness.

Have you ever noticed that you are most critical and judgmental towards your spouse when you're stressed and being hard on yourself? We are often unaware that our harsh inner critic is active until we see our partner flinching (or reacting!) in response to our words or tone.

From the teachings of Buddhism, "loving kindness" describes an attitude we can cultivate towards ourselves and others. Being kind to yourself (in your thoughts and your actions) always benefits those around you too.

With all your heart

Critical attitudes and withheld resentments all too often get in the way of the loving connection with our partner that we desire. We can pave the way for love when we deal with our resentments, accept that our partner is a package of strengths and weaknesses (as are we) and treat them with the loving kindness that we are learning to cultivate towards ourselves.

Copyright © 2015 by Shirley Vollett and the Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Shirley Vollett, Life and Relationship Coach, delights in supporting her clients to discover what they deeply desire in life and love - and then to create a game plan and achieve it. She is noted for listening deeply and creating a safe place to move through blocks to success. Shirley has a degree in Social Work, is a Professional Certified Coach and a Certified Singles Coach, with over 25 years of combined experience in counseling and coaching.


Ask Our Coaches

I don't want my fiancé to ruin my credit, or our relationship...

Dear Coaches,

My fiancé and I are planning to get married in a few months. Being financially responsible is huge to me. My fiancé has issues with paying bills on time and managing money. This really bothers me, because I feel that I have to end up paying for everything, just so we can keep on top of our financial responsibilities. I also don't want my credit to be ruined.

How do I get it across to him that if he keeps on being careless with his money, we may not last?

~ Porter from San Francisco, CA.

Barbara Williams

Barbara responds ...

It sounds like you already know just what to do, but have some reservations about it. Your frustration of future trouble is bothersome, because you are experiencing it now. This reminds me of a quote by the late Maya Angelo, who said: "when people show you who they are, believe them; the first time."

You say he has issues with paying bills on time, and managing money. This is who he is. These are red flag issues that people often ignore and regret later. The only person we can change is our self. He has to personally want to change. Since this is of great concern to you, assuming you have already tried to talk with him about the issue, my recommendation would be to encourage him to accompany you to seek help for "your issue" with him; because apparently he doesn't have one.

If this is affecting your relationship with him now, you really owe it to yourself to pay attention. And it sounds like sooner, rather than later, would be better.

Barbara Williams |

Denise Wade, Ph.D.

Denise responds ...

I commend you for being aware that you and your fiancé are not aligned in your values. You both may lack insight into the needs behind what money represents for each of you separately. Values usually don't change and are typically tied in with emotional, physical, spiritual, or relational needs.

Financial responsibility typically may be tied in with the emotional need of security. Financial irresponsibility may be tied in with the emotional need for independence. Many times how a person manages money is often a reflection of how empowered, or disempowered he unconsciously feels. Feeling disempowered, one may tend to either be over frugal to meet an emotional need for security or he may be over careless to fill an emotional need for freedom. These can both be unconscious means by which one can regain control.

Ask each other what money represents to each partner. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Does money represent…Success… Security… Independence... Freedom... Safety... Choice... Control... Acceptance... Rebellion... Options... Creative Expression?

This is a good starting place to gain insight into whether or not this is a deal breaker for you, or is there a willingness by both parties to negotiate.

Denise Wade, Ph.D. |

Judith Halmai

Judith responds ...

It seems that your fiancé's irresponsible money management has been an ongoing issue for you. How could you get him to understand that he needs to change? Wanting your partner to change is a clear warning sign that cannot be ignored.

First you must determine if financial responsibility is just a need or if it is one of your requirements.

An issue arising from a need may be satisfied in several ways. In this case you might choose to accept that financial responsibility is not one of your fiancé's strong points, and brainstorm creative ways you could work around it that would be acceptable to both of you. Should you be able to come up with an arrangement that works well, your issue will disappear.

A requirement on the other hand is either satisfied, or it isn't. An unmet requirement is a deal breaker, because without it the relationship will not work. Being clear about your requirements is what will help you let go of those potential partners who are not a good match for you.

You must guard against hoping that your fiancé will change. Accept him just the way he is and base your decision about marriage on reality.

Judith Halmai |

The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


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